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"Let love be your life": Stories from the heart day 4

We hope you enjoy these "Stories from the heart" from our 2018-2019 Annual Report as they highlight the experiences of those throughout our Sacred Heart community.

Sisters Joan Gannon, Pat Reid, Muriel Cameron (visiting from Chicago), Betty Renard and Judy Garson.

Lives given in love

by Joan Gannon, RSCJ, assistant coordinator of the Teresian House Community, Albany, New York

Rumi's phrase, “We’re all just walking each other home,” is, for me, what this time of my life in serving in eldercare in Albany is about. I do not think of myself as taking care of people or even as providing much of a service. It is just a holy time, a time to “gather stones together.” Apparently, the Indonesian word for these years is “lancia,” meaning something like “bonus.”

In our culture, old age isn’t something to be desired. It is an “on the shelf time” when productivity has come to an end and, therefore, in the eyes of some, value. Happily, we do not belong to a religious congregation that understands age that way. Our constitutions tell us, “This may be the most contemplative period of our life, keeping its prophetic and apostolic power through the truth and depth of our relationships and the joy with which we bear witness to the fidelity of God’s love.”

In my own experience, it is a time to learn the pleasure that comes from doing things slowly and attentively. It’s
a time to learn the freedom that comes from actually doing what we have always talked about doing: letting go.

A time to experience the truth that each moment, “the grace of each raptureless moment,” can be a revelation, a growth moment, a moment of communion.

The other day one of my sisters said how much she wishes she had spent more time getting to know the wonderful people in her life, including her own blood sister. For me, this is also a time to attend to those incomplete things in our lives – the things we wish we had done more heartfully. I do believe our remembering can be a second chance at living those moments the way we wish we had.

Rilke says, “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going.”

Yes, there are terrors as well. Who doesn’t occasionally waken in the middle of the night when defenses are low and wonder about diminishment, illness and death? About the fate of our country and the fate of the earth? Butthen God says, as does Rilke’s poem, “Give me your hand,” and there is peace.

Finally, it is a graced time to allow ourselves to elect silence; “to listen to the heartbeat of God in the heartbeat of humanity;” to know that our every breath and heartbeat in union with our God’s is part of God’s compassionate, merciful love for this suffering world.

When reading for the first time the Chapter 2016 documents, including the image of the RSCJ setting sail together in a boat, a group of our elder sisters wondered what their place would be. “We are in the engine room,” said Beatrice Brennan, an RSCJ who all
her life had been on the frontier of new initiatives. Her image reminded us as elders, our prayer and our lives given in love supply the fuel for the boat to accomplish its journey.

Annual Report 2018-2019